High Temperature Materials

High temperature materials, or refractory materials, are an area of enormous technical and economic impact. Engineered systems and devices almost always show improvements in performance if they are able to operate at higher temperatures.

  • Computer chips that can withstand higher operating temperatures may be packed together more closely, or operated without cooling systems.
  • Heat engines, like gas turbines and internal combustion engines, extract work from their fuels with an efficiency that is limited by

    emax = (T2 - T1)/T2

    where T2 and T1 are the temperatures of the gas in the engine at its hottest and coolest points, measured on an absolute temperature scale. Raising the highest temperature increases the efficiency of the engine, and only a few degrees of increased operating temperature can make for millions of dollars in fuel savings for airlines, and greatly reduced impact on the environment.

Why can't we just tune the engines to run hotter? Why can't the computer chips stand higher temperatures? Because the materials that they are made of will fail by interdiffusion or deformation, melting or even evaporation. Sometimes the materials just lose a special property (such as magnetism) if the temperature gets too high.

Materials researchers at Purdue are contributing to the development of materials that can withstand higher temperatures.

The links below lead to descriptions of some of our research programs on high-temperature materials:

1. Alloy Processing and Properties

2. Silicide Processing and Properties

3. Thermal Barrier Coatings